Theme parks have taken off in China in recent years, but problems also abound in the sector. For instance, many theme park developers are using part of the land secured for building theme parks to build residential compounds which can generate huge profits in a short period of time. Land for building theme parks is sold at a lower price to developers because they are designed for public welfare. However, theme parks require heavy investment to build and take a long time to generate returns. Therefore, many developers resort to residential buildings to subsidize the development of theme parks. As a result, they pay less attention to the operation of theme parks, which hinders the development of the sector.
The problem has caught the government’s attention, with five government departments including the National Development and Reform Commission issuing a guideline in March, regulating development of theme parks. The guideline requires local governments to firmly restrict construction of residential compounds near theme parks and prohibit developers from bidding on land for building theme parks and residential buildings at the same time.
In addition, domestic theme parks also face problems such as weak cultural foundations and an incomplete industrial chain. For example, most large equipment for domestic theme parks is purchased from abroad as China lacks the technology to make it.
In order to foster a more full-fledged value chain, the guideline requires theme parks to cooperate with other companies in creative design, tourism planning and development of by-products in order to form large industrial groups. Moreover, theme parks should make use of traditional Chinese culture and update their recreational programs regularly in order to increase their attractiveness.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Oriental Outlook on July 29)